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How to Work With Images in PowerPoint (Complete PPT Picture Guide)

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This post is part of a series called How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide).
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PowerPoint presentations contain all types of content: text, video, audio, and images. 

Slides that are simply text need some variety to hold your audience's attention. Whether it's a photo, illustration or graphic, PowerPoint has editing tools to import and edit your image files.

Working with image in PowerPoint
You might be surprised how by how many tools are built into Microsoft PowerPoint to help you edit images. (Photo via Envato Elements.)

Images often need cropping, resizing, and more tweaks to fit in a presentation. Apps like Photoshop have image editing tools, but they're difficult to learn.

The good news is that PowerPoint has image editing essentials inside the app. You can add images to your presentation and edit them without even opening a separate photo editor.

Here are the PowerPoint image tools you'll learn to use in this tutorial:

  • Resizing. Scale an image in PowerPoint to the correct size for your slide.
  • Rotating. Flip an image to face the correct direction, including mirroring it horizontally or vertically.
  • Cropping. Select a part of an image in PowerPoint to remove.
  • Removing picture backgrounds. If your image has a white background and you want to remove it, PowerPoint has a tool to remove backgrounds. This will create transparent images in PowerPoint. 
  • Image effects. Add color tints and adjust image saturation (including black & white) inside your PowerPoint presentation.

How to Quickly Work With Images in PowerPoint (Watch & Learn)

This screencast will show you the complete set of PowerPoint's image editing tools. I'll teach you the steps from importing a picture onto your slide to correcting and editing it.

 

Source: We used this photo of a business team from Envato Elements royalty free photo archive in the video above.

Read on for more tips on how to edit and work with images in PPT.

Why Use Images In PowerPoint? (The Power of Pictures) 

According to many statistics, a significant percentage of the population are visual learners. That means information is easier to understand when presented visually for these learners.

That statistic alone should be enough to convince you of the importance of using Microsoft PowerPoint images. Giving a great presentation is all about sharing information in intuitive, easy-to-understand formats.

Let's look at three ways that pictures can help improve your presentation:

1. Pictures Transform Boring Slides

As you can see in the example below, a single photo is enough to transform a slide. 

Think of a great photo as the bait to grab a viewer's attention. Text alone might not be enough to entice an audience to read the content. But when you pair it with an exciting image, a viewer's eye flows to content.

PowerPoint image added
Without a PowerPoint image, this slide would've been flat and boring. (Source: Envato Elements)

Basically: Microsoft PowerPoint images increase the odds that your viewer will consume the content. Learning how to make and edit PPTs with pictures is crucial as a presenter.

2. Pictures Are Powerful Storytelling Tools

The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is a classic saying for a reason.

Sometimes, text alone isn't enough to convey a message. PowerPoint photos give visual learners a new way to understand information.

PowerPoint image for illustration
This simple setup photograph shows the user how to light a photo instead of describing it with an overly wordy slide. (Source: Envato Elements)

Maybe there's a concept that you can't explain perfectly in words. But when you show a few carefully selected images, the idea comes to life. Think of pictures as more than complementary. Sometimes, they're a must.

3. Pictures Help Viewers Relate

What if we viewed a photo as a tool to inspire empathy? Sometimes, a well-placed photo of people can help your audience put themselves in others' shoes.

People Image in PowerPoint
People-focused photos are a great way to help your audience visualize themselves in a situation. (Source: Envato Elements)

Let's say that you're giving a presentation that's designed to inspire your audience to action. Showing buildings and landscapes doesn't necessarily help your viewer understand their role. But show a people-centric photo and suddenly, the mind empathizes. 

Where to Find Great Microsoft PowerPoint Images (With Unlimited Downloads)

Maybe you've come around to see the importance of photos in PowerPoint. They're crucial to creating an attractive presentation.

But now, where do you find them? The most important part of learning how to put pictures in PowerPoint is finding the perfect source. Envato Elements gives you an all-you-can-download library for PowerPoint stock images.

Envato Elements photos for PowerPoint
Use Envato Elements unlimited library to unlock unlimited PowerPoint pictures for a flat rate.

It's important that your photos are properly licensed. It's risky to simply hit Google Images and source images. Those photos are usually copyrighted and may lack the quality you need for a professional presentation.

Plus, Envato Elements includes so much more. You can download PowerPoint presentation templates that help you create your best slide deck ever. Those are all included at no extra cost.

Envato Elements is the best value because it's "all-you-can-download." One simple subscription unlocks almost a million photos and it's always growing!

PowerPoint Picture Dos and Don’ts

Before we start learning how to put pictures in PowerPoint, let's review a few more guiding principles. These three tips for working with PowerPoint pictures can improve your presentation.

1. Number of PowerPoint Images

  • Do: Add images to the extent it enhances your slide.
  • Don't: Add images in a way that obscures content or distracts the audience.

There's a balance to be found when you start adding PowerPoint photos. You don't want to obscure your slide content with too many photos. As a general rule, try not to exceed more than three medium-sized images or two large images on your slide.

2. PowerPoint Photo Licensing

  • Do: Use an approved source for adding images.
  • Don't: hit Google Images and download liberally.

As we mentioned above, copyright matters! You don't want to be caught using a photo that isn't approved and put yourself at legal risk.

Envato Elements PowerPoint images
Elements makes it easy to ensure that all your images are licensed in your PowerPoint presentation.

Remember: Envato Elements is the best source for licensed PowerPoint images. It's all-you-can-download and all covered as part of the license, no matter how many images you choose.

3. PowerPoint Image Quality

  • Do: Edit pictures in PowerPoint with the built-in tools.
  • Don't: Stretch images so that you distort the original.

There's nothing worse than pixelated, grainy images. It's sure to draw the viewer's eye in a disproportionate way.

Learn how to set the perfect dimensions for your PowerPoint presentation with the help of this tutorial:

How to Insert Images in PowerPoint

Let's get started by adding images to our PowerPoint presentation. There are two main ways to insert images into your PowerPoint. Paste an image from your clipboard or import a picture from a file on your computer.

Let's look at both ways to work with images in PPT:

1. Paste Images

Pasting an image into PowerPoint is as simple as it sounds. Start by copying an image you find online to your clipboard (right click and choose "Copy" or "Copy Image.")

After copying, select the slide that you want to add the image to. To paste the image, use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl / Cmd + V), or right click and choose the picture icon to paste your image in.

Right click and paste picture into PowerPoint slide
Right click on a slide and choose Picture from the paste options to paste in your image.

2. Insert Images From Your Computer

My preferred way to add images to a PowerPoint is to first save them to my computer, and then insert them into the PowerPoint file. This helps keep track of all the files in your presentation, and you can even multi-select files and insert them at the same time.

To Insert from your computer, go to the Insert tab on PowerPoint's ribbon. Click on the Pictures button to open the file browser.

Now, browse to where your images are stored and click on them in the file browser.

Insert Image PowerPoint using Pictures window
Choose Insert > Pictures on PowerPoint's ribbon, then browse to and choose the images you want to insert.

Click on Insert to add them to your current slide. 

Also, click on the dropdown arrow next to Insert and choose between more hidden options. These are advanced ways for working with images:

  • Insert. This is the standard option for inserting pictures, which puts the image file inside your PowerPoint. It increases the size of your presentation file but works even when you send it to others.
  • Link to File. This links to the original file, so you'll need to keep it on your computer for the PowerPoint to display it correctly.
  • Insert and Link. If the original file changes, the version on your PowerPoint slide will update as well.

Now that you've got your image inserted into the presentation, it's time to check out the picture editing tools.

How to Resize and Tilt Images in PowerPoint

When you select an image in PowerPoint, white circles will appear on the corners of the picture. Resize an image by grabbing one of these circles and pulling it until the image is the desired size.

By default, PowerPoint locks aspect ratio when resizing an image. This means that it'll prevent stretching when you resize it. 

Resize Image PPTX
Resize and format picture in PowerPoint.

To turn this off right click on the image and choose Size and Position. A menu will open on the right side of PowerPoint. Untick the Lock aspect ratio box.

Notice in the screenshot above that you can also type in an exact size for your image on the new menu. If you know the exact dimensions you need for an image, this feature comes in handy.

Also, tilt an image by grabbing the circular arrow icon above an image and pulling it left to right.

Quickly tilt images in PowerPoint
With an image selected, click on the circular arrow above an image and pull it left or right to rotate the image.

How to Rotate an Image in PowerPoint

Here's how to rotate an image when it's facing the wrong direction. You can rotate an image 90 degrees at a time in PowerPoint using the Rotate option on the Picture Tools menu.

Again, make sure that you've got the image selected and are on the Picture Tools > Format menu. The Rotate button is on the right side of the ribbon options. Choose Rotate Right 90 or Rotate Left 90 to rotate an image.

Rotate image in PowerPoint
On the same Picture Tools menu, use the Rotate dropdown to rotate or flip an image.

You can also Flip a picture, with the Flip Vertical and Flip Horizontal options. Think of these as "mirroring" an image. If you've got backwards text in an image, use the flip command to correct it.

How to Crop a Picture in PowerPoint

Cropping an image inside of PowerPoint is a breeze. With an image selected, make sure that you're working on the Picture Tools tab on the PowerPoint ribbon, and click on Crop.

Crop in PowerPoint
Crop an image by selecting it and choosing Format > Crop on PowerPoint's ribbon.

The Crop option will put black handles on the corner and edges of the image. To crop the image, grab these handles and pull them to select the part of the image you want to keep.

When you pull these handles, PowerPoint dims the area of the image that'll be cropped out. Move these handles around until you've got exactly the area you want selected. Then press Crop to lock your final crop in.

Crop pictures in PowerPoint
Grab and reposition the black handles on the edges of an image to select the final crop area in PowerPoint.

If you want to re-crop the image, select it and re-enter the crop menu. You can even re-select portions of the image you previously cropped out.

How to Remove Image Backgrounds in PowerPoint

One of the handiest picture tools in PowerPoint is the ability to remove an image background. You've probably run into a situation like this before. You've got a graphic like a logo or icon, with a solid color background.

Take the screenshot below, for example. If I want to use the Envato logo graphic with no white background, I can use the Remove Background feature.

With an image selected, click on the Remove Background button on the Picture Tools menu.

Remove Picture Background in PowerPoint
Let's remove the white space from this logo with the Remove Background feature.

PowerPoint shows a new view where you can set the points to remove and keep in the image. The pink area shows the part of the image that PowerPoint will remove as the background.

PowerPoint takes a first guess at which areas to remove. Refine the selection by using the Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove option on the ribbon. 

Click on those options, then set the points on the image that you want to keep and remove. PowerPoint will adapt to remove the areas you show it. Use the two options to show PowerPoint exactly what to remove and what to keep.

Remove points in PowerPoint
PowerPoint will remove any of the areas in pink once you press Keep Changes. 

In the screenshot above, you can see how I used this tool. I set "Keep" areas for the logo text and icon. Once you press Keep changes, PowerPoint will remove the background from your image.

Work With PowerPoint Picture Tools

Last up, let's look at some of the Picture Tools to adjust and change the look of your Microsoft PowerPoint images. These tools change the appearance of the original image.

Make sure that you've got an image selected. Click on the Picture Tools > Format option on the ribbon again to access tools to adjust an image. Let's look at several key tools.

1. Corrections

Click on Corrections on the left side of the ribbon to access two key tools: Sharpen / Soften, and Brightness / Contrast. If you've worked with any image editing app, these terms and effects are already familiar to you. Sharpening can enhance the detail of an image.

Hover over any of the preview thumbnails to see the effect on the image and click to apply it.

Image Adjustments in PowerPoint
Apply sharpen/soften or brightness/contrast image adjustments in PowerPoint.

Brightness and contrast will adjust the exposure and impact of an image. Try these out if you need to bright up a dim image.

2. Color

The Color dropdown lets you adjust the appearance of color in your image. Use the Color Saturation options to reduce or increase the intensity of color (including converting an image to black and white.)

Image color adjustments in PowerPoint
Select the Color dropdown with an image selected to apply color adjustments.

Click on any of these thumbnails to apply the selected effect. The image will adjust to the selected color style.

There are other tools like the Artist Effects dropdown and Style presets to add decorative frames. Try out these as well to add some creative flair to an image.

Learn More About Using PowerPoint

This tutorial gave you the skills to work confidently with images in PowerPoint. There are plenty of other presentation tips and tools that can help you level up as a presenter.

On Envato Tuts+, we've built a deep library of PowerPoint tutorials. There are many learning resources that help you learn how to put pictures in PowerPoint and so much more. 

In our guide, How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide), you can learn the app completely! Make sure to check out a few of our favorite tutorials from the guide:

Outstanding Options for Templates Focused on PowerPoint Images

Here's a secret: professional presenters love to use the work of others. But don't worry, it's not theft thanks to an impressive creative library called Envato Elements.

On Envato Elements, you can download an unlimited number of templates and PowerPoint pictures. These are usually focused on PowerPoint photos. Instead of creating a presentation from scratch, use a template with impressive PowerPoint designs.

Envato Elements PowerPoint library
Learn how to create PowerPoint image-focused presentations with the help of templates from Envato Elements.

Here are some of our best articles with top PowerPoint photo-focused templates. Check them out to kickstart your design work!

Create a Picture-Perfect PowerPoint Presentation Today

In this tutorial, you learned about PowerPoint's built-in options for modifying and working with images. There are enough features to bypass opening Photoshop or Pixelmator to edit pictures right inside of PowerPoint.

The best pairing with PowerPoint pictures is templates focused on imagery. With the help of Envato Elements, don't forget that you can source unlimited templates focused on PowerPoint photos.

Before you step on stage with your presentation, ask yourself: did you include enough PowerPoint photos? Audiences love visuals. You learned how to make and edit a PPT with pictures to grab and hold their attention in this tutorial. So, put the knowledge to use now!

Note: This article was originally published on August 2, 2017. It's been comprehensively updated with assistance from Andrew Childress.

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